Fans enjoy a concert at the SXSW festival an Austin where Mapme created a special map just for the event. Fans enjoy a concert at the SXSW festival an Austin where Mapme created a special map just for the event. Fans enjoy a concert at the SXSW festival an Austin where Mapme created a special map just for the event. (Photo: Roger Kisby / Getty Images for iHeartradio)

Crowdsourcing cartography? There's a map for that

Create maps around specific communities and topics with Mapme.

Do you want to find the nearest restaurant serving hummus in New York City? Or do you want to locate the hottest nightclubs during the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas? Or maybe you want to explore the 3D printing community across the United States?

Well, there’s a map for that, and plenty of other topics and locations, too. The brainchild of 21-year-old Ben Lang, Mapme allows anyone to build, launch and grow crowdsourced maps of their community – whatever it may be.

The inspiration for MapMe started on a much smaller scale when Lang created a crowdsourced database of tech companies in Israel in 2012.

“I just thought it would be a good way to show what was happening in the Israeli tech scene, and things just took off from there,” Lang told From The Grapevine. “While building it, hundreds of people reached out to me asking if they could create similar maps for different types of places. Some wanted to map vegan places in their cities, others wanted to map startups in their countries, and they had plenty of other ideas as well.”

Currently in beta, Mapme has more than 100 groups (from over 30 countries) building its own maps. Other examples show the diversity and potential of the platform, which launched in 2014, including the animation community in Israel, startups in Portugal and the tech ecosystem in Canada.

Looking to join the 3D printing community in your area? There's a map for that.Looking to join the 3D printing community in your area? There's a map for that. (Photo: Courtesy Mapme)

The group behind each map handles the marketing and pushes people to use and add information to them, Lang explained. To help with the promotion, users can embed the maps and share them on social media.

Users can zoom in to a particular area on each map to find what interests them. For example, the South by Southwest one lists restaurants, hotels, music venues, food trucks, bars and more. Once people click on the icon (a bowl for restaurants), it lists the facility’s name, address, website, phone number and a brief description. Items are tagged for further searchability, such as patio, Mexican and fast food.

Right now, Mapme management still retains control of who can create maps with the platform to ensure success, Lang said. (Users need to request access to join.) But over the next few months, the Israeli-based startup will be opening up the system more broadly.

Also for the future, the team will be refining the website and building better tools for people to use, such as a gallery of maps, a search engine and a mobile app. “We think maps can be a thousand times better than they are today,” Lang said. “Our goal with Mapme is to change that.”

Ben Lang, third from left, with his team at the Mapme headquarters in Israel.Ben Lang, center in gray shirt, with his team at the Mapme headquarters in Israel. (Photo: Courtesy Mapme)

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